Effective January 1, 2019, Code of Civil Procedure Section 2016.080 authorizes the court to conduct an informal discovery conference upon request of a party or on the court’s own motion. The statute reads:

(a) If an informal resolution is not reached by the parties, as described in Section 2016.040, the court may conduct an informal discovery conference upon request by a party or on the court’s own motion for the purpose of discussing discovery matters in dispute between the parties.

Continue Reading If Meet and Confer Fails, Ask for Help

The purpose of the “meet and confer” requirements set forth in C.C.P. §§ 2025.450(b)(2), 2025.480, 2030.300(b), 2031.310(b), 2032.250 and 2033.290 was for the lawyers to revisit their position, and in good faith, discuss a resolution in order to avoid unnecessary discovery motions.

Unfortunately, times have changed since the Discovery Act of 1986 went into effect. No longer can a law firm afford to have an associate sit at the knees of a respected senior partner and watch, listen, and learn without billing. No longer do lawyers have time for the “two-martini” lunch in order to get input from their colleagues about cases with which they are having trouble. No longer is the legal community so small that you know you are going to see opposing counsel again and fear their retaliation.

Continue Reading EXHIBIT A—The Meet and Confer Letter

One of the most common questions I am asked is: when does the clock start regarding bringing motions to compel written discovery? The statutes all contain the same language, but it’s not that easy to decipher. Below is a list of scenarios with the applicable statutes and case law regarding the different responses you may receive.

FAILURE TO RESPOND There is no time limit on bringing the motion to compel the response to the Interrogatories, or the request for production of documents, or have the admissions be deemed admitted. See CCP §§2030.290(b), 2031.300(b) and 2033.280.

RESPONSES WITHOUT VERIFICATION  There is no time limit on bringing the motion, as an unverified response is tantamount to no response. See Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1102 citing Appleton v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 206 CA3d 632, 636.

RESPONSES WITH ONLY OBJECTIONS  Need to bring the motion within 45-days of service of the response. See CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

Responses that only contain objections need not be verified by the party but the response must be signed by the attorney.  See CCP §§ 2030.250(a),(c), 2031.250(a),(c), 2033.250(a), (c) and  Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1113 citing Blue Ridge Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 202 CA3d 339, 344.

RESPONSES WITH ANSWERS AND OBJECTIONS  Need to bring the motion within 45-days of service of the response. See CCP CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

The Fourth District Court of Appeal in the case of Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, Inc. v. Superior Court, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 855 answered the question whether the 45-day period to file a motion to compel further responses begins to run upon service of a combination of unverified responses and objections if the motion challenges only the objections. The Court held that “the most reasonable construction of the applicable statutes seems to us to require verification of such a hybrid of responses and objections before the time period begins to run.”

The response must be signed under oath by the responding party and the attorney. See CCP §§ 2030.250(a),(c), 2031.250(a),(c), 2033.250(a), (c) and  Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1113 citing Blue Ridge Ins. Co. v. Sup. Ct. (1988) 202 CA3d 339, 344.

AMENDED RESPONSES The clock on a motion to compel further responses begins to run once the “supplemental verified responses” are served. See CCP §§2030.290(b), 2031.300(b) and 2033.280.  See Golf & Tennis Pro Shop, Inc. v. Superior Court, 2022 Cal. App. LEXIS 855.

REMEMBER:

Stipulations to extend the time to bring a motion to compel further responses must be in writing with a date certain. See Cal. Prac Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (TRG 2022) 8:1148 and CCP CCP §§2030.300(c), 2031.310(c), and 2033.290(c).

Delaying the motion beyond the 45-day limit waives your right to bring a motion to compel as the court loses jurisdiction. See Vidal Sassoon, Inc. v. Superior Court (1983) 147 Cal. App. 3d 681 at 683-684 and Sexton v. Superior Court (1997) 58 CA4th 1403, 1409-1410

The court may toll the deadline for filing a discovery motion if an Informal Discovery Conference is requested pursuant to CCP §2016.280. See blog “If Meet and Confer Fails, Ask for Help.”

 In the previous blog, Start Preparing Your Motion Because with These Responses You’re Going to Court, I used the following example as a type of response I see as a Discovery Referee:

Responding party hereby incorporates its general objections as if fully stated herein.  Responding party objects to this request to the extent it seeks information protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege and/or work product doctrine, or any other applicable privilege. Responding party objects as it invades their and third parties’ right of privacy. Responding party objects that the request fails to specifically describe each individual item sought or reasonably particularize each category of item sought. Responding party objects that it is unduly burdensome and overbroad.  Responding party objects to this request as it does not seek relevant documents or documents reasonably calculated to the discovery of admissible evidence.  Responding party objects that plaintiff has equal access to these documents.  Responding party objects that the request seeks documents already in plaintiff’s possession custody or control.  Responding party objects to this request as it seeks documents that are not within defendants’ possession, custody, or control.

Boilerplate objections are becoming more and more common in response to each of the document requests.  The above is an example of inappropriate boilerplate objections. In fact, boilerplate general objections are sanctionable in California per Korea Data Systems Co. Ltd. v. Superior Court (1997) 51 Cal.App.4th 1513 and may result in waivers of privilege per Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Ry Co. v. U.S. Dist. Court 408 F.3d 1142, 2005 WL 1175 922 (9th Cir.2005) [trial court affirmed in holding boilerplate objection without identification of documents is not the proper assertion of a privilege.] Continue Reading WHY THESE OBJECTIONS ARE GARBAGE

Have you noticed that you are getting too many objections and very little documents to your document requests?  Have you also noticed that despite months of meet and confers you still don’t have a determination whether or not documents exist; and if they do exist, why they aren’t being produced? Is this scenario more the norm than the exception? Continue Reading Start Preparing Your Motion Because with These Responses You’re Going to Court

UPDATED 10/23/2020

There are three motions that you can bring–(1) Motion to Compel, (2) Motion to Compel Further Responses, and (3) Motion to Have Admissions Deemed Admitted. All of them have their place in your discovery plan but two of them–Motion to Compel Further Responses and Motions to Have Matters Deemed Admitted must be in your arsenal. Though they appear to be the same motions you would use for interrogatories, inspection demands, and depositions there are a few noteworthy twists and turns.

Continue Reading Request for Admissions-THE MOTIONS

Boxing Women.jpgYou have been served with the Motion to Compel Further Responses with a Separate Statement of Items in Dispute (pdf) the size of your fist and your response is due in two weeks.  Now what do you do? First, take a deep breath.  This is the time you decide when to “hold them and when to fold them” because how you respond may end up setting the tone between you and opposing counsel for the entire case.   

Look at the Separate Statement of Items in Dispute (pdf) and determine whether or not you have any garbage objections.  If you do, offer to respond to those interrogatories, requests for admissions and/or requests for productions of documents by a date no later than when your opposition is due.

Continue Reading GAME ON-The Opposition